BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The recent release of Marvel’s final Avengers movie marked an end of an era for the global fanboy community, but Brunei’s own comic book convention, the Infinity Con, heralds the beginning of a new one.
As geek culture continues to gain momentum in the sultanate, each addition to the Marvel and DC universe has spurred local fans to create a space where they can share their interests and passions without judgment.
Organisers of the convention returned with a second edition last weekend, dubbed “Infinity Con Strikes Back” — its second showing in six months. Visitor numbers reached 2,666, a 15 percent increase from the first convention in November 2018.
“There is a great following [for geek culture] here in Brunei,” said Khairul Anwar, co-founder of Fanboys Infinite, one of the convention’s main organisers.
The first Infinity Con in 2018 attracted some 2,300 people including visitors from Kota Kinabalu. “It was one of the best things about the con last year,” said Khairul. “They were not aware that Brunei has its own comic con and they were very impressed.”
Khai added that their goal is to attract more fans from neighbouring states like Sarawak and Sabah, and to ultimately serve as the lynchpin of geek ecology in Brunei.
This year’s Infinity Con is focused on “spreading the love of geek culture to the masses”, aiming to be more inclusive with activities that cater to both geeks and the casual fan.
“As geek culture become more mainstream, the idea of the convention is to not just have comic books but also board games, collectibles, action figures, video games, all under one roof… the possibilities would be infinite”.
A returning feature is the Artist Alley where local comic book artists and illustrators can display their artwork and take commissions from the public.
Artist Adi Farhan said Infinity Con has become a big platform for artists like him to not only showcase their work, but also earn extra income through their passion, despite the market for comic book artists being small.
“I would say that the con is a big platform that every local artist should join. Last year gave me a lot of exposure. Since then my work has been noticed… I have received a lot of offers on different projects and commissions.
Meanwhile, first time merchandise vendor Md Omar Ali Saburdeen said the Infinity Con was a great avenue for hobbyists and like-minded people.
“We have never had this in Brunei… As a collector myself, I always wanted to share my love of geeky things and interact with more people who share the same passion,” said the 31-year-old.
He added that while the market for geek culture exists in Brunei, it is still small and somewhat niche. However, he believes that the Infinity Con is a good platform to build this audience and provide vendors like him more exposure to a new customer base.
Ultimately, Khairul wants the Infinity Con to act as a blueprint for geek conventions to come, hoping that eventually Brunei’s comic book conventions would be big enough to attract fans from across the region.
“It is very feasible to sustain this environment here in Brunei and hopefully with our partnerships, this could be expanded even further hopefully reaching a peak some day where we would look back and say that it all started with the Infinity Con.”